On World Embroidery Day, an event started in Sweden, I am sharing the incredible story of a Swedish embroiderer named Mätta Charlotta Fock. In my research into the life and times of my ancestress Maja Lisa Magnusdotter, accused and punished for infanticide in 1838, I have only begun to understand the concept of crime and […]

I Mamma Andersson (Swedish, b. 1962), Svanesång [Swan Song], 2016   I have not yet been able to find what I think must exist–records of the court case against Maja Lisa Magnusdotter and Nils Nilsson, my three-times great grandparents. Such transcripts would certainly provide details that would persuade me, one way or the other, about […]

 here and (t)here i am leaving small offerings to place textile pieces immersed/interred in country that will in due course be retrieved –India Flint Remember gathering fall leaves and ironing them between two sheets of wax paper? I have never outgrown my childhood fascination with that process. First, it involved a walk outside to find […]

I could not resist buying this beautiful hibiscus plant at the St Paul Farmer’s Market on Saturday. The farmer told me that it is perennial and I could plant it directly into my garden, prune and mulch it in the fall and it would survive. It’s a variety called Luna Rose, hardy in zone 4 […]

In the novel Augusta‘s Daughter by Judit Martin (2012), several generations of Swedish women suffer poverty and discrimination in the last century beginning with Augusta, a poor peasant a bit younger than Maja Lisa. Was Maja Lisa’s experience giving birth in 1838 anything like the fictional Augusta’s in 1854? The story, based on the author’s research, makes […]

“Some of you who are children of emigrants who left their homeland at the turn of the century may have no memories of your parents in bygdedräkt [parish costume]. There may be two reasons for this. First, they had probably not participated in their home district’s choice of a typical bygdedräkt, since the process was […]

Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it. –Seamus Heaney, from his poem Digging After writing about the spirit of landscape, it seems right to return to the part of Maja Lisa’s story that concerns her family’s move to a smaller farm near a bog in 1870. Maja’s son […]

It happened at a meeting between an Indian community in northwest British Columbia and some government officials. The officials claimed the land for the government. The natives were astonished by the claim. They couldn’t understand what these relative newcomers were talking about. Finally one of the elders put what was bothering them in the form […]

Vårt dagliga bröd giv oss idag. Give us today our daily bread. –The Lords’ Prayer This week we celebrate Thanksgiving and it is a reminder that, these days, we live in a time of plenty. We don’t worry about not having enough to eat. Instead, the anxiety the holiday raises is rooted in ‘too much’ […]

La plaie mal suturée parviendra-t-elle cicatriser avec le temps? The wound that is badly sutured, will it form a scar over time? Estelle Chrétien Mending the past is what I decided to call this story at the outset. The lives I am writing about have been flawed, broken, torn in many ways. Maja Lisa was separated […]